HC Deb 17 December 1974 vol 883 cc1329-30
2. Mr. Gow

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the Government's policy in regard to the future of selective secondary education in Eastbourne; and whether he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

The Government's policy as indicated in Circular 4/74 is to abolish selection for secondary education and introduce genuine comprehensive reorganisation throughout the country. All local education authorities have been asked to inform my right hon. Friend by the end of this month of the successive measures that will be taken for this purpose. He expects the reply from East Sussex local education authority to state its intentions for the complete and early abolition of selection in Eastbourne as well as other areas in the county where selection still obtains.

Mr. Gow

Will the Minister tell the House what he means by "complete and early ", and when he expects the reorganisation to which he refers to be completed?

Mr. Armstrong

By complete abolition of selection I mean the removal of schools that continue to select children. By early abolition I mean that local education authorities must not wait until they can find the perfect system or have all the resources they would like. In the educational interests of our children, authorities must use available resources to abolish selection as quickly as possible, and we shall be looking at their intentions in that regard.

Mr. Flannery

Does the Minister agree that it will be all the better for the children of Eastbourne, as for children in the rest of the country, if selective education is abandoned completely and comprehensive education, which gives freedom, liberty and a good education for all children, exists throughout the whole country?

Mr. Armstrong

I accept what my hon. Friend says. I remind the House that selective and comprehensive education cannot run side by side. They are alternatives, and we have chosen to abolish selection.